As the season draws nearer to its conclusion, the time has come to hand out the awards for Premier League performers. For the young player of the year, the winner must be under 23 at the beginning of the season. That leaves quite a large scope for good players, so here are my top five youngsters this season:
Seen as there have been so many impressive goalkeepers this season, I thought it would be unfair not to include one in this list. The now 24-year-old has been as consistent as they have come this season. Newcastle have actually conceded 42 goals this season, which makes you think how many they might have conceded had it not been for the Dutchman’s exploits.
In my opinion, his consistency throughout the season puts him just above Manchester United’s David De Gea. The Spaniard has been the outstanding ‘keeper of the last three months, but his early season jitters mean Krul pips him onto this list.
Swansea City’s success this season has been very unexpected. The way they have dominated possession against nearly every team they face, picking up some good wins along the way, has been a joy to watch. And although Leon Britton has been singled out for his pass statistics, young Welsh midfielder Joe Allen is just as important to the Swans philosophy.
The 22-year-old has been excellent this season, rarely giving the ball away and always making himself available for team-mates – the mark of a good player.
Still only 21, Welbeck has all but become United’s new number nine. With Dimitar Berbatov all set to leave in the summer, I would be surprised if the England striker wasn’t given his shirt number, and even more surprised if it doesn’t spur him on to a prolific campaign.
This season, Welbeck has been a revelation. Usurping Javier Hernandez’s first-team place at the start of the the season, Welbeck has become a key player for the Red Devils. His boundless energy means opposition defences can never settle on the ball, and although his composure in the box needs a little bit of work (that will come with experience), the 21-year-old has struck up a good partnership with Wayne Rooney, and has chipped in with 10 goals this term.
I have been very impressed with Walker this season. He has made the problem right-back spot at Spurs his own this season and it is hard to see anyone removing him in the next few years. Walker is another one whose consistency has been so impressive.
He is rarely beaten for pace and has shown an aptitude for supporting the attack. His maturity has also grown throughout the season and he is only going to get better. He would be very unlucky if he wasn’t starting at right-back for England in the European Championships in my opinion.
The final place in the top five was a difficult one, but I suppose it has to go to Bale. The Welsh winger is still only 22, and after a great season last season, he has dealt with the level of expectation and continued his case to be the prominent left-sided winger in World football.
We all know what Bale can do. He searing pace and power is often unstoppable for any full-back and his left foot is something similar to a wand at times. As I said, what has impressed me this season more than anything is the way he has dealt with the added pressure. He gets more kicks now and is often marked by two or three players. But Bale has risen above that to show his importance for Spurs, particularly in the past couple of weeks – when his team have needed him most!
This list is in no order, but as there were so many impressive youngsters this season, honourable mentions must go to:
David de Gea (second half of the season, mainly) Daniel Sturridge, Sergio Aguero (Still only 23, only left him out because he is sure to be in with a shout of the main award) Phil Jones Mario Balotelli (not a joke), Theo Walcott, Wojceich Szczesny, Junior Hoilett
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